It’s that time of year! The weather is hot and we are all headed out to our pools to cool off, sun bathe, and relax. But, don’t let your guard down under the lazy sun; pool safety is key to having a great summer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, drowning accidents are the number one cause of death for children under five years old and the number two cause of death for kids under 15. 75% of these accidents occur during lapses of supervision as short as five minutes.
Adult supervision is most important when it comes to pool safety. No matter how many people are present, according to ABC Pool Safety, a designated adult should maintain constant “eye-to-eye” supervision with swimming children. Children should be removed from the water if the supervising adult is distracted by things such as a telephone call or restroom break.
The American Red Cross adds that children should be actively supervised, even if lifeguards are present, and children should not be dropped off at a public pool. Also, a child should not be put in charge of supervising younger children.
Don’t miss a thing. Get breaking news alerts delivered right to your inbox
The supervising adult should maintain a clear view (no trees, bushes, or other obstacles) of the children and be prepared with the emergency services telephone number and the address of the location at which they are swimming in case emergency personnel are need to be at the scene. ABC Pool Safety suggests issuing the adult supervisor an item such as a whistle or bracelet. to reinforce which adult is in charge of the safety of the children.
Children are not the only ones at risk around water. In 2007, a CDC study showed that almost half of adolescent and adult deaths associated with water recreation involved the influence of alcohol. Alcohol affects balance, coordination and judgment, and its effects are heightened by sun exposure and heat.
Many aquatic emergencies can happen quickly and silently. According to the Los Angeles Fire Department’s website, young children tend not to splash or make noise when drowning.
The American Red Cross provides tips to help recognize an emergency:
-An active drowning victim may be vertical in the water but unable to move forward or tread water.
-An active drowning victim may try to press down with the arms at the side in an instinctive attempt to keep the head above the water.
-A passive drowning victim is motionless and floating face down on the bottom or near the surface
-Do not assume that a swimmer in distress is joking or playing around.
The American Red Cross also provides information for handling an emergency:
-If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
-Reach or throw, don’t go. Connie Harvey, the American Red Cross manager of Aquatics Technical Development, explains that jumping into the water to save a victim may only result in risking the life of both people.
-Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
-If you own a home pool or hot tub, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment (ring buoys, reaching poles, or even a water jug tied to a rope or a broom), a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
-Have a well-stocked first aid kit on hand. Ensure that you know how to use the equipment and that expiration dates have not passed.
-Enroll in Red Cross home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.
The American Red Cross recommends U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets in and around water for children and inexperienced swimmers, though the vests should not be substituted for adult supervision.
The American Red Cross provides these hints for choosing a life jacket:
-Make sure it is the right type for the activity.
-Make sure it is U.S. Coast Guard approved. Look for the stamp on the life jacket.
-Make sure it fits the intended user. Check the label on the life jacket for weight limits.
-Check buckles and straps for proper function. Discard any life jacket with torn fabric or loose straps.
-Put it on and practice swimming with it.
-Water wings, swim rings, inflatable toys and other items designed for water recreation are not substitutes for U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets or adult supervision.
The American Red Cross offers these additional suggestions to stay safe at the pool.
-Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
-Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. Even at a public pool or a lifeguarded beach, use the buddy system!
-Establish rules for your family and enforce them without fail. For example, set limits based on each person’s ability, do not let anyone play around drains and suction fittings, and do not allow swimmers to hyperventilate before swimming under water or have breath-holding contests.
The American Red Cross provides suggestions of rules to enforce to protect children:
-No children allowed in the pool without active adult supervision
-Nobody swims alone
-No bottles or glass around the pool
-No running or pushing
-No diving unless the pool meets the safety standards
-Make sure everyone in the household learns to swim well.
-Designate a responsible individual as the person to watch over children whenever they are in, on or around any body of water, even if a lifeguard is present.
-Do not serve alcoholic beverages to individuals who are or will be supervising or participating in water activities.
-Keep toys that are not in use away from the pool and out of sight. Toys can attract young children into the pool.
Personal pools should be protected with barriers including fences, alarms, and other safety covers. ABC Pool Safety suggests these barriers:
-Have a fence enclosure that isolates your swimming pool and spa from the home, play areas, front and side yards and the neighbor’s yard.
-Make sure all gates in the isolation fence are self-closing and self-latching
-Multiple layers of barriers isolating the pool and spa from children should be installed.
-Approved swimming pool and spa safety cover
-Approved swimming pool and spa alarm
-Exit alarms on doors providing access to the swimming pool and spa
-Keep all doors and windows leading to the swimming pool and spa area locked
-Doors providing access to the swimming pool and spa equipped to be self-closing and self-latching with a release mechanism high enough to be out of the reach of a child.
-The man-door from the garage should be self-closing and self-latching with a release mechanism high enough to be out of the reach of a child
-Pool covers and pool alarms can be used as added layers of protection.